Martin Trainer has a 9:29 a.m. PST tee time in the third round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club on Saturday. If that doesn’t seem like that big a deal, well you might not be familiar with the recent record of Martin Trainer.
Last February, the 28-year-old won the Puerto Rico Open in just his ninth start on the PGA Tour. It was a celebrated victory for a tour rookie still trying to find his way in pro golf. And yet Trainer has struggled to follow up that momentous moment.
Having made the cut in three of his next five starts after the win (best showing a T-41 at the Players Championship), Trainer proceeded to either miss the cut or withdraw from 21 of his next 22 starts. And the one tournament in that stretch in which he played all four rounds was the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January, which technically had no cut and which he finished 34th … out of 34 players.
Returning to a familiar place in Los Angeles and Riviera—Trainer played college golf at USC, graduating in 2013, and the Trojans regularly had practice rounds at the George Thomas gem—appeared to have a calming effect. Trainer, ranked 391st in the Official World Golf Ranking, shot rounds of 72-71 to make the cut on the number at one-over 143.
That said, Friday was not without an anxious finish. Playing his final hole of the second round, the famed par-4 18th, and needing only bogey to get to the weekend after making birdie on the 17th, Trainer drove his ball way right into the trees. He managed to punch his second shot short and left of the green, a little more than 30 yards from the pin, but when he chipped his third shot, it speedily ran past the hole on to the fringe on the other side of the green.
Facing a slick, downhill 18-footer for par, Trainer proceeded to hit his ball five feet past the hole. If things had gone the way they had the previous 22 starts, Trainer would have missed the bogey putt. Mercifully for him, he holed it, making a cut in an event that has a cut for the first time in 45 weeks.